Exposure to traumatic or violent experiences negatively affects the health, education, and development of preschool-aged children in Kansas City's urban communities. Without intervention, these children often experience lifelong emotional disturbance, social developmental delays, and learning problems.
Head Start-Trauma Smart is an innovative program created by Crittenton Children's Center therapists that addresses the high incidence of complex trauma that negatively impacts the lives of 3- to 5-year-old children. This trauma includes:
- Community violence
- Family members’ arrest
- Separation from their parents
Children who experience this type of trauma often become physically and emotionally on “red alert”—their hearts race, they cannot sleep, and they live in fear. Head Start-Trauma Smart provides the appropriate mental health treatment to help children concentrate in school and develop social and emotional strengths to carry them into adulthood.
Within the context of the children's natural environment—Head Start classrooms—Crittenton Head Start-Trauma Smart staff educate classroom personnel about ways to understand the sources and symptoms of trauma, identify its impact in children, and access tools to therapeutically intervene when appropriate.
Crittenton Children's Center is one of only 10 awardees selected from a national field of 161 applicants to the 2010 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships (LFP) matching grants program. The foundation awarded $500,000 over three years, which is being matched by $700,000 from local funding partners to support Head Start-Trauma Smart. These funding partners include:
- REACH Healthcare Foundation
- Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City
- Hall Family Foundation
- Victor E. Speas Foundation, Bank of America, trustee
With these grants, Crittenton can more fully provide for the needs of the nearly 900 children who participate in 13 EOF Head Start sites in Wyandotte County, Kan. It also extends geographic reach farther into Jackson County, Mo., by extending services to the approximately 320 children enrolled annually in preschool programs at Operation Breakthrough and St. Mark's Child and Family Development Center. Overall, Crittenton can potentially impact approximately 1,200 children each year.
For more information about Crittenton Children's Center, call 816-765-6600.